ARTnewsletter

THE INTERNATIONAL BIWEEKLY REPORT ON THE ART MARKET
Volume XXXV, Number 5 Nov. 3, 2009

London Contemporary Sales: Surprisingly Upbeat
NEW YORK—Despite a decline in volume from a year ago and totals that were a fraction of what they were at the peak of the art market boom, the London auctions of Postwar and contemporary art, which coincided with the annual Frieze Art Fair, held Oct. 15–18, were surprisingly upbeat and showed confidence in the contemporary market, observers said. “There was no sense of the mood that we’ve experienced in the previous nine months,” said Abigail Asher, a partner in the New York–based art advisory firm Guggenheim Asher Associates. “There were some very strong prices despite the drop in volume and very healthy activity, with multiple bidders” on many lots, she added. Asher told ARTnewsletter that she acquired a Lucio Fontana work for a client, and had gone to London expecting to acquire several more, but was surprised by the intensity of competition. The total for sales held at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury & Co. Oct. 16–17 was £47.4 million ($75.8 million), down from the £99.9 million ($173 million) achieved last fall. In October 2007, as the market was peaking, total sales were £174 million ($353 million). The current total was just above the high estimate of £45.5 million, and represented a 53 percent decline from last year’s total for comparative sales. The number of lots offered fell by 31.5 percent, to 729 from 1,063. The drop in actual sales was far less dramatic than the 81 percent decline in estimates calculated by Bloomberg, and was softened by the healthy sell-through rate of 79 percent, versus about 64 percent last year—which all goes to demonstrate that the market has reached a new kind of stability. Not counting the Phillips sale, the most recent total was evenly divided between Sotheby’s and Christie’s. On Oct. 16, Sotheby’s realized a total of Inside This Issue: £20.2 million ($32.8 million) in an auction of contemporary art, including Arab and Iranian art, Fontana Works Star that brought in £12.8 million ($20.8 million), and a At Sotheby’s Season Opener .............................2 sale of 20th-century Italian art that totaled $3.7M Kippenberger Leads £7.4 million ($12 million). Christie’s Postwar/Contemporary......................3 Christie’s realized £20.5 million ($33.2 million) in two sales. Its evening sale of Postwar and conSlimmer Sale, but Volume temporary art on Oct. 16, featuring a section Holds Steady at Phillips ...................................4 devoted to Italian art, realized a total of £17 milChristie’s Dubai Sale Shows lion ($27.7 million); the day contemporary sale on Solid Appetite for Arab Art ...............................5 Oct. 17 took in £3.5 million ($5.7 million). FIAC Exhibitors Report Significant Phillips’ evening sale of contemporary art on Sales, Strong Attendance .................................6 Oct. 17 realized £4.1 million ($6.7 million), and its day sale took in £2.6 million ($4.3 million), for a Art Thefts Highlight total of £6.7 million ($11 million). Last year’s Complex Insurance Issues................................7 sales at Phillips realized a total of £8.1 million Former Auction House Executives ($14.1 million). Open Art Financing Firm ..................................8 The top lot at Sotheby’s was Jean-Michel Freedman Resigns from Knoedler, Basquiat’s Fuego Flores, 1983. At Christie’s, the Del Deo Appointed New President.....................8 top lot was Paris Bar, 1991, a painting by Martin Kippenberger, which sold for £2.3 million ($3.7 million) against an £800,000/1.2 million esti-

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mate. Christie’s also set a record for a work by Leipzig School artist Neo Rauch, when his painting Stellwerk (Signal Box), 1999, sold for £892,450 ($1.45 million), nearly double the estimate of £350,000/450,000. “The market is very good; prices and sales have been adjusted accordingly,” private dealer Nicholas Maclean told ARTnewsletter. “There were very few casualties.” He added, “Good pictures are still selling well, and ultimately there is more money out there chasing good works than there are available. Lesser-quality works tend to have dropped 30 to 40 percent from last year’s prices.” The mood at the Frieze Art Fair was also upbeat, with organizers reporting attendance of 60,000, on par with that of the last two years. Reported sales included Louise Bourgeois’s sculpture The Couple, which was sold by Hauser & Wirth to a European collection for $3.5 million, and Rauch’s painting Harmios, which was sold by David Zwirner for $1 million. —Eileen Kinsella Additional reporting by Colin Gleadell

Fontana Works Star At Sotheby’s Season Opener
LONDON—Sotheby’s opened the fall series on Oct. 16, with a sale of 20th-century Italian art in which 30 out of 33 lots were sold, bringing in a total of £7.4 million ($12 million), just below the high estimate. Among the top-selling lots were Lucio Fontana’s red slashed canvas Concetto Spaziale Attese, 1966, which sold to New York art adviser Abigail Asher for £457,250 ($744,312) against a £300,000/400,000 estimate. The artist’s white, punctured canvas Concetto Spaziale, 1961, sold to London dealer Ben Brown for £385,250 ($627,110) against an estimate of £350,000/450,000. Lingotto, 1969, a classic arte povera work made from metal tubes, wood, wax and twigs by Mario Merz, sold to art adviser Hugues Joffre for £121,250 ($197,637) on a £100,000/150,000 estimate, which turned out to be the bargain of the sale. Competitive Bidding for Contemporary Works Sotheby’s dispensed with a part-one evening sale in favor of a long session of mid-to-lower-

value contemporary art, including 46 works of Middle Eastern contemporary art, that followed immediately after the Italian sale. That session grossed a further £12.8 million ($20.8 million), in the middle of the £10 million/14 million estimate. Of the 217 lots, 159, or 73 percent, were sold. The more valuable lots were placed in the first half of the sale. These included Chris Ofili’s Afro Apparition, 2002–3, which sold for £577,250 ($939,648) on a £280,000/350,000 estimate (a record in sterling, but not in dollars) to U.K. collectors Eskander and Fatima Maleki; Damien Hirst’s circular butterfly painting Retribution, 2006, which sold to dealer Jose Mugrabi for £541,250 ($881,047) on a £450,000/650,000 estimate; and Gerhard Richter’s small Abstract Painting, 1990, which sold to New York adviser David Nisinson for £529,250 ($862,670) on an estimate of £500,000/700,000. As ever, Mugrabi was in the running for several lots, underbidding for works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hirst, and Spanish conceptual artist José María Cano. Basquiat’s large Fuego Flores, 1983, brought the highest price of the sale, going to a private Asian buyer for £959,650 ($1.6 million), within the estimate of £800,000/1.2 million. The painting had been the subject of a lawsuit filed by Swedish collector Gerard De Geer against the Basquiat Authentication Committee and dealers Carl Flach and Stellan Holm, in which De Geer argued that the committee had arbitrarily refused to rule on the work’s authenticity. The suit was settled last December, after the committee ruled the work was an authentic Basquiat on the basis of additional information provided by De Geer (ANL, 12/23/08). It was “accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Authentication Committee of the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat,” according to Sotheby’s catalogue. Mugrabi also bid on Hirst’s painting Two Skulls, 2006, which sold to a private U.S. buyer for £433,250 ($706,200) against an estimate of £220,000/280,000, and helped Cano’s painting Queen Elizabeth II, 2008, on its way to the final price of £61,250 ($99,837), an auction record for the artist (estimate: £30,000/50,000). Works by Andy Warhol were in relatively short supply, with just three on offer. The top price for a work by the artist was £301,250 ($491,037), paid

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for the portrait Joseph Beuys, 1980, by White Cube, London (estimate: £200,000/300,000). Anselm Kiefer was much in demand, as two works by the artist flew over their estimates. En sof, 2006, sold to U.S. adviser Leslie Rankow for £289,250 ($471,500) against an estimate of £150,000/200,000. A small early landscape, Für Eva: Herbst im Odenwald, 1980, sold to a phone buyer for £205,250 ($334,560) against an estimate of £60,000/80,000, underbid by Paris and Salzburg dealer Thaddaeus Ropac. Ropac was more successful in acquiring Deleuze Kneeling Down, 2006—the better of two works by Erwin Wurm on offer. One of an edition of six, it sold for £25,000 ($40,750) against an estimate of £12,000/15,000. He also acquired Untitled (Doppelportrait), 1966, an early drawing by Georg Baselitz, for £37,250 ($60,700) against an estimate of £30,000/40,000. Munich collector Ingvild Goetz, who was in London for the Frieze Art Fair, made a rare appearance in a saleroom, buying Ducks at Rest, 1983, an early painted polyurethane sculpture by Peter Fischli & David Weiss, for £85,250 ($139,000), within the estimate of £70,000/90,000. Goetz also bought Melody, 2002/3, a large collage by Tal R, for £73,250 ($119,400) also within the estimate of £60,000/80,000. The Tal R work was one of several offered at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury & Company from the Saatchi Collection. Another Saatchi work at Sotheby’s was Florian MaierAichen’s Cibachrome Above June Lake, 2005, which sold to Stefan Ratibor of the Gagosian Gallery for £70,850 ($115,500), against an estimate of £60,000/80,000. Ratibor was, however, left trailing in the competition over a rare-to-auction example of painting by British artist Hurvin Anderson. Untitled (Beach Scene), 2003, was the first large canvas by the artist to appear at auction, having been bought at a show at the David Risley Gallery, London, in 2004 for less than £10,000. At that time Charles Saatchi had inquired about buying works from the show, but it had already sold out. At this Sotheby’s sale it was estimated at £20,000/30,000, in line with current retail prices, but it was bid up by Ratibor, U.K. collector Peter Simon, and Saatchi, who was bidding through an agent in the room. The painting finally sold to Saatchi for a record £97,250 ($158,500).

In a large section devoted to Middle Eastern contemporary art, Sotheby’s sold 30 out of 46 works, or 65 percent, bringing a total of £1.2 million ($2 million), comfortably within the estimate. The top lot was Cowboy and Indian, 2007, a diptych by Farhad Moshiri, which sold to a private collector for £397,250 ($647,500) against an estimate of £150,000/200,000. —Colin Gleadell

$3.7M Kippenberger Leads Christie’s Postwar/Contemporary
LONDON—Like Sotheby’s, Christie’s rolled its sales of contemporary art and Italian art into one auction, selecting just 25 contemporary works and 37 Italian works for a prominent evening sale on Oct. 16, following Sotheby’s long afternoon event. This made sense in view of the sharp reduction in the number of lots offered in each category, but also made any meaningful comparison with previous sales difficult. By selling 24 of the contemporary works, Christie’s was able to publish a bullish sell-through rate of 96 percent by lot, but there was still a drastic difference between the overall result of this sale and that of the market peak in October 2007, when 89 percent of 101 lots were sold. Including its part-two day sale, Christie’s racked up £20.5 million ($33.2 million) in sales for 202 lots offered—just outpacing Sotheby’s total of £20.2 million ($32.8 million) for 250 lots offered. The geographic breakdown of buyers in the evening contemporary sale was 50 percent U.S., 42 percent European (including the U.K. and Russia), and 8 percent Asian—though the significance of those figures with so few works for sale is questionable. Three out of the seven top lots in the Postwar and contemporary section had come from the Saatchi Collection. Leading the sale was Martin Kippenberger’s Paris Bar, 1991, which brought the second-highest price for a work by the artist at auction, £2.3 million ($3.7 million), on an estimate of £800,000/1.2 million. The painting sold to a U.S. collector on the phone, bidding against New York dealer Jeffrey Deitch and collector Ingvild Goetz in the room. Another version of the painting had sold at Phillips, de Pury & Company in New York in November 2007 for £636,000 ($1.3 million). Further underlining the increase in prices for Kippenberger’s best works, Deitch then outbid

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Goetz to buy the painting Kellner Des (Waiter of . . .), 1991—which Saatchi had bought in 2003 for £196,000 ($331,240) at Sotheby’s in London— for £1.1 million ($1.8 million) against an estimate of £500,000/700,000. A few lots later, Chinese artist Li Songsong’s large painting Cuban Sugar, 2006, also from the Saatchi Collection, sold for a record £433,250 ($706,200) to a bidder on the phone with Christie’s director of Russia, Matthew Stephenson (estimate: £300,000/400,000). The same bidder, whom Christie’s said was based in Europe, also paid a record £892,450 ($1.5 million) for Neo Rauch’s large canvas Signal Box, 1999 (estimate: £350,000/450,000), and bought Peter Doig’s Pine House (Rooms for Rent), 1994, for £1.4 million ($2.25 million), below the estimate of £1.5 million/2 million. The latter painting had been bought in from the collection of Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation president Jennifer Stockman last November at Christie’s in New York, where it carried a guarantee and an estimate of $4.5 million/6.5 million. Now the property of Christie’s, it almost certainly represented a loss for the house. Other previously guaranteed and unsold works included in the sale were Frank Auerbach’s Head of E.O.W., 1967–68, which had been offered at Christie’s in London in 2007 with an estimate of £190,000/250,000 and sold now for £121,250 ($197,637) against a £70,000/90,000 estimate; Andy Warhol’s The Last Supper, 1986 (in the part-two sale), which had been guaranteed at Christie’s in New York in May of last year with a $600,000/800,000 estimate and sold now for £103,250 ($167,265) on an estimate of £80,000/120,000; and Rudolf Stingel’s wallpaperdesign painting Untitled, 2004, which had gone unsold with a guarantee and a £500,000/700,000 ($1 million/1.4 million) estimate at Christie’s in London in February of last year, and sold now for £269,250 ($439,000) against a £150,000/200,000 estimate. The buyer of the Stingel was Miami collector Carlos de la Cruz. Other lots returning to the market included two works by Damien Hirst that had been part of the artist’s “Pharmacy” sale at Sotheby’s in London in October 2004 (ANL, 10/26/04). Hirst’s butterfly painting I Miss You, 1997–98, had sold at the “Pharmacy” sale for £263,200 ($473,760). The buyer, Ezra Nahmad, had twice tried unsuccess-

fully to resell it for a profit at Christie’s auctions since then, once in June 2008 with a £700,000/800,000 ($1.4 million/1.6 million) estimate, and then in October 2008 with a £500,000/700,000 ($850,000/1.2 million) estimate. Ultimately the owner had to be satisfied with a much more meager return, as the work sold for £337,250 ($549,717) on a £200,000/300,000 estimate. A small medicine cabinet, Maxwell’s, 1997–98, had sold in 2004 for £117,600 ($190,512) and was subsequently offered and bought in at Christie’s in London in July 2008 with a £350,000/450,000 ($700,000/900,000) estimate. At this sale it returned to its 2004 value, selling for £115,250 ($187,860) on an estimate of £100,000/150,000 to dealer Jose Mugrabi. Other buyers in the room included dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, who bought Luc Tuymans’s Pigeons, 2001 (also previously in the Saatchi Collection), for £385,250 ($627,957) on a £200,000/300,000 estimate with a guarantee, and Pilar Ordovas, formerly Christie’s head of contemporary art in Europe, now working for the Gagosian Gallery. Ordovas, on behalf of a client, outbid private dealer Desmond Page to buy Frank Auerbach’s Park Village East–Summer II, 2005, for £205,250 ($334,560) against an estimate of £100,000/150,000. Christie’s Italian sale was less successful than Sotheby’s. Of 28 lots on offer, 24 found buyers for a healthy sell-through of 86 percent, but the Italian section brought in only £5.79 million ($9.4 million) against an overall low estimate of £6.5 million ($10.6 million). One of the few works to spark a bidding war was a 1913–14 ink and brush study for Gino Severini’s painting Sea = Dancer, which is in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. The battle was eventually won by New York adviser David Nisinson in the room, who paid £265,250 ($429,705), well above the estimate of £100,000/150,000. —C.G.

Slimmer Sale, But Volume Holds Steady at Phillips
LONDON—Phillips, de Pury & Company witnessed the least dramatic downturn of the three auctioneers in its sales held during the week of the Frieze Art Fair, with two sales on Oct. 17 that

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made £6.7 million ($10.9 million), compared with £8.1 million ($14.1 million) last year. However, Phillips’s performance last year was by far the worst of the three houses, with a total barely onethird of the estimate. This time, although the total came much closer to the estimate of £7.8 million/11 million, Phillips was still the only saleroom not to meet its estimate, and 28 percent of lots offered failed to find buyers. The top lot of the sale was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Year of the Boar, 1983, a large triptych that had last been auctioned in 1999 for £155,500 ($248,000). Ten years later, it fetched £1.1 million ($1.8 million) against a £900,000/1.2 million estimate. The work sold to a buyer on the phone, against bidding from dealer Gerard Faggionato and Italian former race car driver Moz Fabris, who reportedly now works in the financial industry in London and Milan. Fabris went on to acquire the catalogue cover lot, Lucio Fontana’s painted terracotta Concetto Spaziale, 1958–60, for £241,250 ($395,650), just below the estimate of £250,000/350,000. The main feature of the sale was a selection of works by Martin Kippenberger from the collection of Gabriella Bleich-Rossi, who, with her late husband, Alexander Bleich-Rossi, had worked closely with the artist at their gallery in Graz, Austria (Galerie Bleich-Rossi has since relocated to Vienna). Although a work by Kippenberger was the top lot in Christie’s sale, demand for his work is clearly selective. The top-selling work by the artist in this auction was the painting Big Until Great Hunger, 1984, which sold to the gallery Pablo’s Birthday, New York, for £433,250 ($710,530) on an estimate of £400,000/600,000. But three other works, including Der Herr Joszi, 1987, a triptych of portraits estimated at £350,000/500,000 ($579,000/827,000), did not sell. A collection of Kippenberger archival material from the BleichRossi collection was also exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery during the week and was for sale privately. The other main unsold works were Andy Warhol’s small Skull, 1976, estimated at £450,000/650,000 ($744,000/1.07 million), and Suffix (Herbaceous Perennial), 2006, by Indian artist Jitish Kallat, estimated at £120,000/180,000 ($198,000/298,000). As part of its sponsorship deal with Phillips, the Saatchi Gallery also consigned several works to

the sales. These included Florian Maier-Aichen’s large Cibachrome Untitled (Saddle Peak), 2004, which sold for £103,250 ($169,330), against an estimate of £60,000/80,000, and Turner Prize nominee Enrico David’s Dinisblumen, 1999, which sold for £27,500 ($45,100), doubling the estimate of £8,000/12,000. On Oct. 15, Phillips also held separate sales of photography and design as part of Frieze week. The total results—£694,625 ($1.1 million) for photography and £1.23 million ($2 million) for design—were hardly mind-boggling, but they did put Phillips ahead of the competition in number of lots offered (639, versus Sotheby’s and Christie’s combined 452) that week. —C.G.

Christie’s Dubai Sale Shows Solid Appetite for Arab Art
NEW YORK—Christie’s took in a total of $6.7 million in its sale of international modern and contemporary art in Dubai on Oct. 27, missing the total estimate of $8 million/11 million. Of 163 lots on offer, 117, or 72 percent, were sold. By value, the auction was 74 percent sold. Christie’s said the buying was 63 percent Middle Eastern (including Iran), 21 percent European, 12 percent North and South American and 4 percent Asian. Christie’s previous Dubai sale, last April, realized $4.8 million (ANL, 5/12/09), and its sale there last October took in $8.7 million (ANL, 11/11/08). Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s Middle East, said works had been consigned from as far away as Scandinavia, California and France. “Despite the global economic troubles of the last year, the appetite for art in the Middle East continues to grow, as does the international appreciation for Middle Eastern art,” he said. The top lot was Remembrance and Gratitude, 2009, a diptych by Egyptian artist Ahmed Moustafa (b. 1943), which sold for $662,500, a new record for a modern work by an Arab artist (estimate: $600,000/800,000). That was followed by Indian artist Tyeb Mehta’s oil on canvas Untitled (Yellow Heads), 1979, which sold for $578,500 on a $500,000/700,000 estimate. Another new artist record was the $242,500 paid for Turkish artist Burhan Do!ançay’s Rift (from the “Ribbons” series), 1977, on an estimate of $200,000/250,000.

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Works by Iranian artists among the top lots included Parviz Tanavoli’s bronze sculpture The Wall and the Heech, 2008, which sold for $182,500 against an estimate of $140,000/180,000, and Farhad Moshiri’s painting Tar Jar, 2006, which brought $146,500, missing the low end of the $150,000/200,000 estimate. William Lawrie, Christie’s specialist and the head of the sale, said afterward that the results indicated a “return of confidence with solid and realistic results throughout, and healthy prices for works by many of the most established artists in the field.” —E.K.

FIAC Exhibitors Report Significant Sales, Strong Attendance
PARIS—The 36th edition of the Foire Inter nationale d’Art Contemporain, held Oct. 22–25 at the Grand Palais, the Cour Carrée of the Musée du Louvre and the Tuileries, was highly successful, exhibitors said. Participating dealers said they were very satisfied by the solid and significant sales. A total of 203 galleries representing 21 countries—including 75 French galleries—participated. Attendance rose considerably from last fall. When the fair closed Sunday evening, a total of 80,760 visitors had been counted, up 24 percent from last year’s 65,000 visitors. In modern art, the highlight of the fair took place in the Grand Palais, in an area designated as an internal gallery called “Projet Moderne.” Ten international galleries each showed one or two modern masterworks, by such artists as Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder and Constantin Brancusi. Véronique Jaeger, of Galerie JeanneBucher/Jaeger Bucher, Paris, said the gallery had “matched total sales from 2008 in the first hours of this year’s fair,” selling an ink drawing by Fernand Léger for 150,000 ($225,000). The gallery also showed works by Nicolas de Staël, Jean Dubuffet, and Maria-Helena Vieira da Silva, and sold a painting by de Staël for 1.4 million, also in the first few hours. Zlotowski, Paris, which found buyers for works by Kurt Schwitters and Victor Brauner, also sold seven works by Le Corbusier to private European collectors.

Contemporary-art exhibitors also reported brisk sales. Paris dealer Anne de Villepoix said she sold out both her booth and her stock room. Sales included works by Otto Zitko and Stéphane Pencréach; oil paintings by Xie Lei, priced in the range of 2,500/3,500 for small paintings and around 15,000 for large paintings; and several pieces by Marc Turlan priced between 750 and 950. Yvon Lambert reported good sales, including a work by Jenny Holzer for 300,000. Emmanuel Perrotin told ARTnewsletter the fair went “very, very well—beyond my expectations.” He sold about 75 percent of his booth, which offered works ranging from 5,000 to 300,000. His sales included three lithographic monotypes and a Murano glass and mica sculpture in the shape of a necklace by Jean-Michel Othoniel, which the French government purchased for its national collections; a sculpture by Xavier Veilhan for 50,000, and a 1995 sculpture by Duane Hanson for $450,000. Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, sold two works by Louise Bourgeois, priced at $220,000 each, and two pieces by Sterling Ruby for more than $200,000 each. Alicia Bona of Skarstedt Gallery, New York, said the gallery sold a work by Richard Prince for $750,000. Works by younger artists, which were grouped in the Cour Carrée venue, also sold briskly. Nicole Klagsbrun, New York, showing for the first time at FIAC, sold out her entire booth—which featured works by Matthew Day Jackson—the first night. Tina Wentrup of the Wentrup gallery, Berlin, said the gallery sold a painting with a cassette tape by Gregor Hildebrandt for about 45,000. For the fifth year in a row, the French government made a large purchase for the Fond national d’art contemporain (the French National Contemporary Art Collection), choosing 24 works by 20 artists, with a total budget of 400,000. In addition to the works by Othoniel from Perrotin, the government purchases included Histoire du silence, a recent installation by Adel Abdessemed featuring a video and a ukulele, from Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv; an inkjet print by Véronique Ellena from Galerie Alain Gutharc, Paris; Disco Babylon, 2008, a work on paper by Maike Freess, from Galerie Eva Hober, Paris; and a film by David Lamelas from the Jan Mot Gallery, Brussels. —Laurie Hurwitz

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Art Thefts Highlight Complex Insurance Issues
NEW YORK—Last September, ten Andy Warhol silk screens of sports celebrities were stolen from the Los Angeles home of 69-year-old Seattle art collector Richard Weisman. The theft, which was reported on Sept. 3 by the family’s long-time nanny, left no signs of any forced entry into the house. The ten screenprints were all commissioned by Weisman in 1977, and include such subjects as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Dorothy Hamill, Jack Nicklaus, Pelé, O. J. Simpson and even Weisman himself. The silk screens were insured for $25 million, but Weisman has not filed an insurance claim for them, stating in an interview that he didn’t want insurance investigators going through his financial and personal records. Insurance companies—in this case the insurer was New York–based Chartis—often hire private investigators to “examine the situation of someone who has suffered a major loss,” Los Angeles police detective Don Hrycyk, who has specialized in art thefts for the past 15 years, told ARTnewsletter. Looking for missing Warhols has kept Detective Hrycyk busy over the past several months. Over the past year, his office tracked down five small (6by-6-inch) Warhol portraits of artists Lee Bontecou, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist and Frank Stella that were reported stolen in 1986. The victim of that theft, Los Angeles art dealer and collector Ulrike Kantor, also did not file a claim for the works, which had an insurance value of $160,000. The trail of the five Kantor Warhols took a number of months to unwind. According to Hrycyk, Kantor’s son Niels Kantor, a teenager at the time, allegedly stole his mother’s Warhols, which she had stored in a box in their house, and sold them to a friend, Brian Byhower, who now works as a real estate agent in southern California. According to Hrycyk, in 1998 Byhower offered to sell three of the Warhols to a Santa Monica art gallery, Ikon Ltd. Fine Art, which agreed to the purchase subject to authentication of the works by the Warhol Art Authentication Board. The board confirmed the paintings’ authenticity, but did not contact the New York–based Art Loss Register, which had been informed of the theft in 1986.

Ikon’s owner, Kay Richards, knew that Niels Kantor—who by then owned a gallery of his own in Beverly Hills—was a collector of Warhol, so she contacted him about purchasing the artworks, and he bought them that year, Hrycyk said. Over the years, Niels Kantor established himself as a contemporary-art dealer, even partnering with a well-known New York gallery owner in 2005; the partnership ended in 2007. Last year, Hrycyk said, Byhower brought his remaining two Warhols to Christie’s to sell, and the portaits—of Rosenquist and Bontecou—were included in the catalogue for the Nov. 13 morning sale of contemporary art, but were pulled from the sale: According to the detective, Niels Kantor’s assistant called on behalf of Kantor to alert Christie’s and the Los Angeles police department that the works were stolen. “At first, Niels tried to accuse Byhower of having stolen the paintings from his mother,” Hrycyk said, “but he finally admitted stealing them himself.” Kantor can not be charged in the theft of the paintings because of a three-year statute of limitations, but according to the detective he could potentially be charged in his purchase of the three paintings from Ikon, since he allegedly “received property that he knew had been stolen.” According to Hrycyk, Ulrike Kantor chose not to press charges against her son. Neither Byhower, Niels Kantor or Martin responded to requests for comment from ARTnewsletter. Deciding not to file an insurance claim for stolen artwork is not unheard of; Hrycyk told ARTnewsletter that Ulrike Kantor chose not to because she wanted to retain title to the works in the event they were recovered. Insurance companies technically assume title to the objects on which they have paid out a claim, although they usually offer them back to the policyholder in return for the amount of the claim (plus the reimbursement of their costs) or some more current value if they are later recovered. According to Christopher Marinello, executive director and general counsel of the Art Loss Register, “art galleries will not always file a claim following a theft. People are always surprised to find that out.” The reason, he said, may be that the gallery owners worry that the claim will result in their being dropped as a policyholder or that the value of the object stolen may be less than or not much greater than the deductible for which they would be responsible.

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Larger insurance claims usually also result in investigations that may delve into the personal and professional lives of the claimant. New York City–based AXA Art Insurance hires private investigators, for instance, when the value of a theft reaches the $15 million/20 million level, according to Colin Quinn, national director of claims management. He noted, however, that among his company’s policyholders it is “very rare” for a major theft to not result in a claim. —Daniel Grant

Freedman Resigns from Knoedler, Del Deo Appointed New President
NEW YORK—Knoedler & Company announced the resignation of Ann Freedman and the appointment of Frank Del Deo as president and director on Oct. 27. Freedman joined Knoedler in 1978, and during her 31-year tenure, served as director of contemporary art. She was appointed president and director in 1994. “When I joined the now 163-year-old Knoedler Gallery, nearly 32 years ago, the gallery’s extraordinary history and its emphasis on building relationships among artists, collectors, and institutions was then, and still is, an inspiration. As Knoedler moves into its next phase with its newly created relationship with Hammer Galleries, I recognize that it is time to make way for new leadership,” Freedman said in a statement. Del Deo has been with Knoedler since 1999 and has served as associate director and senior vice president. Previously he was director of Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York.—E.K. ARTnewsletter
Publisher Milton Esterow Editor Eileen Kinsella U.S. Correspondents New York Daniel Grant, Andy McCord, Lindsay Pollock Chicago Nancy Moffett Miami Elisa Turner Foreign Correspondents London Tom Flynn, Colin Gleadell Paris Simon Hewitt, Laurie Hurwitz Berlin Charles Rump Wuppertal David Galloway Milan Elisabetta Povoledo Basel Mary Krienke Zurich Christian von Faber-Castell Sydney Terry Ingram Madrid George Stolz Buenos Aires Maria Gainza Rio de Janeiro Mery Galanternick Tokyo Kay Itoi, Sumi Nakamichi Copy Editor Patrick Sheehan Circulation Manager Marisa Cerio

Former Auction House Executives Open Art Financing Firm
NEW YORK—Former auction house executives Michael Plummer and Jeff Rabin have announced the launch of a new art finance company, Artvest Partners LLC. The company, which will be based in New York, will provide art-investment services and financing for collectors, dealers and financial intermediaries. Despite a period of retrenchment among private banks, auction houses and other lenders in the current economy, Artvest has “multiple lending sources,” according to a statement from the company. The statement says that Artvest will also provide advice on “special-purpose investment partnerships, purchase and sale transactions, wealth transfer and preservation planning and restructuring art businesses and collections.” Rabin said that over the past five years “even the most passionate collectors have come to view their art as a significant financial asset; an asset for which they have a responsibility to heirs and beneficiaries to manage appropriately.” “While the market correction has resulted in the exodus of the speculative collector,” Plummer said, “there remain savvy investor collectors who seek longer term gains by buying the best of the best during downturns in the art market cycle.” Plummer is a former chief operating officer of Christie’s Financial Services. Prior to that he spent 15 years at Sotheby’s, during which he served as marketing division head for the Americas and Asia. Rabin is a former vice president of Christie’s financial services unit who has spent most of his career in the investment-management business, including heading global trading for Barclays Global Investors. —E.K.

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